Tag Archives: proofreading

Editor Spotlight, by Darlene Elizabeth Williams

editor spotlight alvimannTips to Reduce Your Editor’s Fees

Thank you, Karen, for your gracious offer to guest post on your blog. It’s an honor to be part of your Editor Spotlight series.

I work primarily with Indie fiction authors (either self-published or published by small to mid-sized presses). Publishing as an Indie author is a tough row to hoe. Millions of books are uploaded to Amazon and Smashwords annually, with most lost in obscurity the moment they appear.

If Indie authors are to succeed, my philosophy is we cannot merely write novels equal in quality to that of traditionally published books, we must exceed those standards. The stigma of self-publishing is lessening, but it still remains.

An Indie author attempts to wear many hats: author; editor; proofreader; cover designer; formatter and marketer. An author can self-publish a book without engaging an editor, cover designer, and formatter. Likewise, authors don’t have to market if they are uncomfortable with the concept—but don’t expect to sell copies.

Indie authors can learn how to design covers and format their manuscripts for upload onto Amazon or Smashwords. There is a plethora of advice and instructions on the internet. Marketing? Again, there is no limit to the information available on social media for authors.

However, there is one essential category an author cannot effectively do themselves or learn by Google searches: editing.

Many authors assert they are best qualified to copy edit and proofread their work, as they are most familiar with it. In fact, this is the reason an author is least qualified. Writers often fail to catch basic typographical errors, misused word, missing text, incorrect punctuation, and awkward sentences because they are too close to their manuscript.

Editing places Indie authors in a Catch-22 position. If they hire an editor, will they sell enough copies to recoup the expense? If they don’t hire an editor, will readers pitch the book against the nearest wall and leave a one star review lamenting the lack of editing?

At the end of the day, all an Indie author has to hang their hat on is their reputation. That reputation is derived through written words; a fragile hook indeed.

These are three doable tasks Indie authors can undertake to reduce editing costs:

  • Firstly, run a spell check;
  • Secondly, self-edit a minimum of two rounds; and
  • Thirdly, ensure the manuscript is in the English version (US or UK) intended for publication.

Your bank account and editor will thank you.

After working with a number of Indie authors, I compiled a list of tips to reduce editing costs. I discovered these pointers are applicable across the board; every author—whether novice or experienced—has writing idiosyncrasies.

Word Over-Usage

A great online thesaurus resource is Wordsmyth.com. I keep it open while I write or edit. The following words and phrases are amongst the worst offenders for over-usage:

  • kid
  • with a smile, smiling, smiled
  • grin, grinned, grinning
  • small
  • large
  • old, old house, old book, etc.
  • young, young woman, young man, etc.
  • quickly
  • grabbed
  • peer, peered, peering

The kid quickly grabbed the small candy out of the large container in the old country-style corner market. The young woman behind the counter peered at him. He grinned and ran out the door. He sucked on the candy as he walked home with a smile.

That “that” May Not Be Necessary

Read sentences that include the word “that”. Reread the sentence without including the “that”. Does it make sense? Great. Delete “that”.

Modifiers

Modifiers create passive language and dilute prose sophistication. In rare circumstances they are necessary; otherwise, eradicate modifiers ruthlessly.

A list of commonly used follows:

  • very
  • quite
  • rather
  • somewhat
  • more
  • most
  • lessDSC02458
  • too
  • so
  • just
  • enough
  • indeed
  • still
  • almost
  • fairly
  • really
  • pretty
  • even
  • a bit
  • a little
  • a lot
  • a good deal
  • a great deal
  • kind of
  • sort of

“and” Conjunctions

The conjunction “and” is used ad nauseam. Reread your sentences with this conjunction to decide whether the “and” can be replaced with a period separating the two phrases into complete sentences or a semicolon.

Your writing becomes active and engages the reader. There will be instances where this conjunction is impossible to avoid.

Eliminating “and” conjunctions effectively removes a frequently over-used word: then.

I ate lunch with a dear author friend today, and then inspiration struck for the topic of this post while we talked about writing.

Punctuation

Exclamation marks are not substitutes for periods. The excitement denoted by an exclamation mark can be exhibited by the character’s choice of words or actions.

“This is the last time you pull this stunt on me.” Melanie slammed and locked the door. Thank heavens Jerry didn’t know about her move tomorrow.

If possible, avoid exclamation marks or, at least, insert them sparingly.

Dialogue

Our everyday conversations are filled with extraneous comments which, if included in a manuscript, bore the reader. As examples:

“Hey,” said the boy.

“Hey,” Tom replied.

“I’m Harry.”

“I’m Tom.”

—    or —

“Good morning, Susan,” said the Duchess

“Good morning, Your Grace,” said Susan.

“How are you today, Susan?” asked the Duchess

“I’m well, Ma’am. How is Your Grace today?”

“Well thank you, Susan.”

Are you asleep yet?

The colloquialisms below are littered throughout manuscripts—sometimes numbering in the hundreds. Unless this is in sync with your character’s background and/or current lifestyle, they irritate the reader:

  • Ah…
  • Hmmm…
  • Humph.
  • So,…—or—I am so excited….
  • Oh,—or—Oh…
  • Okay,…—or—…, okay?
  • yea (or yeah)
  • You know, or …., you know?
  • eh?
  • huh?
  • Well,…

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags should be invisible to the reader. Punctuation is always within the quotations marks. The examples in the Dialogue subsection illustrate how to punctuate dialogue.

Studies show the reader’s eye skips over the word “said” to the name of the speaker. If there is a question mark in the dialogue, this alerts readers and they once again skip over “asked”.

This keeps the reader in the story, whereas using “called, replied, yelled, screamed, exclaimed, loudly, etc.” pulls the reader out of the story world. Characters’ words and actions best demonstrate emotion.

***

These tips are meant to assist authors with self-edits which, in turn, reduce editing costs. They are not intended as a substitution for an editor.

If you have spent months or years writing a novel, honor your work by ensuring it earns the recognition it deserves. Hire an editor that understands your genre and your vision.

Darlene Elizabeth WilliamsDarlene’s website is Darlene Elizabeth Williams. Drop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight, Guest Writers & Bloggers

The Writer-Editor Project III

DSC02458The Writer-Editor Project III

My first post in the series, for writers, you can see here.

My second post in the series, for editors, you can see here.

You might wonder…

What’s she getting at?

What I’m getting at

Is a way to find a good editor (for writers), ways to find good clients (for freelance editors), for us to find each other, open up the conversation, share ideas and perspectives.

For writers and editors –

Was your writer/editor relationship planned? Serendipity? Assigned?

How do you feel about your best writer/editor relationship? Or what sort of relationship would you like to have if you had a writer/editor relationship?

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Special Events

The Writer-Editor Project II

DSC02458The Writer-Editor Project II

I posted my first come-on for The Writer-Editor Project on January 19, for writers. You can see it here. If you are a writer and would like to comment about your writer-editor experiences, you still have time.

The editors get their turn

Now, I have a couple of questions for editors.

I’ll reiterate – I would like some discussion, so feel free to respond (kindly please) to others’ comments.

Keep in mind, if you respond, you may be quoted. If you want to complain about a certain writer, please do not mention her/him by name.

Editor questions

These questions are for editors.

  1. What’s the harshest response you have ever received from a writer about your edit?
  2. What’s the best thing a writer ever told you about your edit?

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The Word Shark is in Knoxville

timeline banner

 

I am a guest on Donna L. Martin’s blog today as part of her Writerly Wisdom series. She’s had articles, all relating to writing, every Wednesday, all year long!

Some of the subjects covered so far: social networking, to blog or not to blog, picture books to young adult, deadlines, writer’s block, critique groups, showing vs. telling, dialog, how to show action, adding tension, and so much more.

Please stop over at Donna’s blog and see my post I don’t need no stinkin’ editor.

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Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, My Guest Posts

Quick Editorial Tips VII – For Poetry!

Nash

Nash

I have edited and proofread some poetry, both for clients and as a favor for friends. Poetry is tough to critique honestly!You don’t want to crush the muse, you don’t want to offend (as poetry is so personal), but you do want the writer to reach a little, experiment with words and sounds, show true emotion.

I have a poetry collection coming together – hopefully I will publish this year with the help of editor Shawn MacKenzie Shawn MacKenzie and my book designer Elizabeth H. Cottrell.

I’d like to share some of my critique notes on poetry I have edited and proofread. Perhaps a few of you can refer to these notes when you beta read my poetry collection! Or perhaps you have decided to write or edit your own poetry.

Struggle for rhyme

Don’t struggle – it will be evident. Try to make the rhyme flow. Rhymes don’t necessarily have to be the same letters like in “ease” and “please.” Rhymes can come from similar vowel sounds. For instance – try “verse” with “search.” Or “son” with “become.”

Echo…echo

Look at your collection – does it use a lot of the same old common words?

Reach for it! Pull out the thesaurus and open up your vocabulary. Don’t use familiar words over and over (people reading your collection will notice).

Thoreau

Thoreau

Tickle a funny bone

How many collections have you read where all the poetry is the same – sadness, depression, lost love, loneliness. It’s depressing to read, too.

Try a little humor! What makes you laugh? Try to tap into this laughter with a light-hearted piece or two.

Does this comma make me look fat?

A comma adds a pause and changes the cadence; it changes the way a reader reads the lines and the piece. Along those same lines…

…Try reading your own work out loud

I do this for clients and friends, and I also do it while reading a “finished” piece or my own. I often change things around a bit after I’ve heard it out loud.

Have a friend read it aloud to you. You can hear where the reader stumbles and pauses.

Change the sequence of words

Instead of “I lost my love,” try “the love I lost.”

Instead of “the worm squiggles and wriggles,” try “the squiggly-wriggly worm.”

Auden

Auden

Caps or no caps?

The use of caps at the beginning of a line or a sentence within a poem is a personal choice. Sometimes we don’t want to use any caps, nor do we want to use any punctuation. But consider it both ways.

Would the piece be enhanced with a few caps along the way?

Would it read better with some additional (or less) punctuation?

Left justified all?

Consider lay-out and indents. Are all your poems left justified?

Experiment! Put a few lines left justified then poke the fourth or fifth line into right justified or indented.

Haiku anyone?

Look at your poems. Do they all look like blood relatives? Are they all laid out the same way? Few lines and a break, few lines and a break…

Throw in some haiku or a long-paragraph prose piece. Study and employ alternative poetry forms.

What have others written?

Read others’ poetry. Search for your favorite poets online.

I’m inspired by Ogden Nash (what a hoot), Auden, Poe, Thoreau, Thomas.

Poe

Poe

Is there a theme?

Some of my poems have a theme, like the sea and waves or art and canvas.

Put a theme into a few of your pieces; use of similes and metaphors can make it more real to a reader.

Smell is the strongest sense

When someone talks about warm apple pie or the lilac scent drifting through the bedroom window…do you remember? Can you smell it?

Darn tootin’ you can!

Interject some smells into your poetry to get the reader more involved.

In your comment

Feel free to include links to your favorite poets, one of your own poems, or a poetry site you especially like.

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!

I’ll start a poem, you add to it. Poem stanzas will be in ALL CAPS.

If you don’t want to add to the poem, no problem (try it, you might like it!). You can still comment!

Here goes…

I THINK MY BONES HAVE GONE WEAK AND BRITTLE,

THEY’RE NOT AS BENDY AS WHEN I WAS LITTLE,

All photos from Wikipedia.com.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Prose & Poetry, Publishing, Quick Editing Tips

Weird and Wonderful Words, by Lisa Steyn

Lisa Steyn 1Article by Lisa Steyn

While I was in a state of zwodder, I ran to the kitchen to get my Coke Light(I know it’s bad for me, but that’s my poison!) as I had xerostomia. My next morning ritual was to turn on the computer and trawl through my emails.

There in my inbox was an email from Karen asking me to guest blog as she had enjoyed my posts about weird and wonderful words. I felt very honoured – thank you, Karen!

So here – in all its glory – is my list of weird and wonderful words. The first 25 are from the book The Horologicon, by Mark Forsyth. The rest, I sniffed around and found them in various places. Enjoy.

1. Horologicon – means a book of hours.
2. Uhtceare – means anxiety experienced just before dawn.
3. Aristologist – means you are a person who devotes your life to the study of breakfast. Not sure as this about my next career move!
4. Hypnopompic – means half dreamful, half conscious delusions and illusions. Yes, I experience this often.
5. Oneirocritical – of or pertaining to the interpretation of dreams.
6. Expergefactor – means anything that wakes you up – your alarm clock, your children, the neighbour drilling at 6am (Just for the record I am not a fan of expergefactors!)
7. Snollygoster – one of my personal favourites this means a dishonest politician (well kind of…the technical definition is similar). The actual definition is a shrewd, unprincipled person.
8. Aubade – means a song sung at dawn by your lover beneath your bedroom window. I am not sure that this is going to happen to me.
9. Reveille – means the drum roll or bugle-blast meant to awaken a barracks of soldiers.
10. Matutinal – people who are breezy and bright in the morning.
11. Zwodder – a drowsy and stupid state of mind. As seen in my introduction, I do experience this fairly often.
12. Philogrobilized – this should be used the morning after the night before and conveys a hangover, but you don’t admit to actually having been drinking (this might be my new favourite word).
13. Xerostomia – the technical term for having dryness of mouth (obviously after philogrobilized!)
14. Obdormition – the term used for your arm falling asleep from lying on it.
15. Lucifugous – means light-fleeing creatures that avoid sunlight like vampires or badgers. It is normally referred to in the context of sins and demons…but feel free to use it when you really need those curtains to be closed in your zwodder state.
16. Cunctation – like procrastination which is avoiding the inevitable.
17. Grufeling – to lie close, wrapped up, and in a comfortable looking manner; used in ridicule.
18. Dysania – extreme difficulty in waking up (this definitely describes me…)
19. Clinomania – an obsessive need to lie down.
20. Oscitancy – yawning or unusual sleepiness…(think about that mind numbingly boring conference).
21. Pandiculation – stretching of the arms or body when you’re is oscitancy.
22. Egrote – to pretend you’re sick in order to avoid work.Lisa Steyn
23. Whindle – once your boss picks up the phone, start whindling. This is essentially when you are pretending to groan.
24. Floccilating – means feverishly plucking at the bed clothes. You must of course tell your boss this.
25. Jactating – means you are tossing around feverishly.
26. Risorial – something that causes you to laugh. Yes, I do want a risorial moment.
27. Misopedia – you hate children, but worse even is that this specifically means to hate your own! I do hope I never experience misopedia.
28. Zatetic – to question or ponder upon something.
29. Wheeple – to try and whistle loudly, but monumentally failing! I definitely wheeple a lot…I just cannot whistle!
30. Antinganting – a lucky charm.
31. Aposiopesis – stopping an idea in mid-sentence. Um, yes, I can definitely relate to this!
32. Aeolistic – a person who is very long-winded and boring. I have come across many in my time…
33. Limosis – a strong urge to eat chalk. Can’t say this is for me, but perhaps chocolate?
34. Discalceate – to take your shoes off.
35. Carwitchet – a funny pun.
36. Novercaphobia – an abnormal fear of your step-mother. Is this not normal?
37. Thibble – a stick for stirring porridge.
38. Acclumsid – clumsy, numbed or paralysed.
39. Abligurition – spending an abnormally high amount of money on food. I suspect I might have this problem…don’t we all?
40. Calamistrate – to curl your hair.
41. Dactylonomy – counting on your fingers.
42. Fludgs – hurry up! I would love to confuse the morning chaos with “Come, fludgs”. Do you think that might stop them?
43. Gangrel – when a child is just starting to walk. Perhaps toddler is a bit more user-friendly?
44. Hautain – to be proud or arrogant. I will definitely throw this word into my next meeting with an arrogant person – that could put them off.
45. Infucate – to use make-up. “Hold on darling, I’m just infucating.”

I used a couple of sources to bring all these together, so thanks to The Inky Fool, Fiction Press, Squidoo, and  Brownielocks.

***

Lisa SteynPlain and simply…I am a proofreader, editor and copywriter with an absolute passion for the written word and creating words that work. I have over 20 years experience in marketing, which allows me to look at each project from a strategic perspective. Quite by chance, I was asked to work on a number of content management, proofreading and copywriting jobs. I loved it and the clients loved it.

Take a look at Cape Town Proofreader to get an idea of my experience over the years.

***

Connect with Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Words & Vocabulary

What is “branding?”

brandingBranding – what the heck is it?

An “expert” came to me with a proposed guest blog about branding. I looked at her site, Twitter, Fan Page. Her site had a rheumy picture and bland copy. Her Twitter had five tweets (still has five tweets months later), and her Fan Page had four posts in six months. Each site looked different. There was no consistent message. What kind of branding is that?

Why would I follow her advice (or feature her on my blog) when she can’t brand herself out of a paper bag? Couldn’t brand herself with two hands and a map.

In proper Word Shark fashion, I started to research. I Googled “branding.” I read a bunch of blogs and articles. And I asked my connections what they thought.

April Michelle Davis Editorial Inspirations – “My website, business card, print materials, and everything about my company has the same colors, fonts, look, and feel.”

I think the theme/scheme is important. You don’t want to be pastels and floral on one page, and dark and gruesome skulls on another page. You want your colors and your feel to translate from one page to the next.

Shark and bluek

If you look at my Fan Page, you see a shark in blue water. If you look at my Twitter profile, you see a shark in blue water. My website – shark and blue. My blog – shark, blue.

Published writer Ilil Arbel – “Personal branding is positively grabbing someone’s attention by creating a unique, unforgettable image. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. Each one of us has to develop their own USP – Unique Selling Proposition – to communicate our brand, as the big corporations do.”

Ilil digs deeper – “Yes, I think branding goes deeper than a logo and a color scheme. It has to create an image that is strong enough to be remembered by concept, not just shape.”

Going deeper

I like what Ilil said about going deeper. Branding is not just a color scheme or font. It’s what you stand for, it’s what you deliver; it’s following through on promises and conducting oneself with professional integrity.

Public identification

Elizabeth H. Cottrell of Heartspoken and Riverwood Writer says, “Branding is the development of a public identification through marketing, imagery, logo, and consistent messaging. In includes everything related to social media activity, advertising, etc. In a nutshell, it’s what pops into people’s minds when you or your company name is mentioned.”

k 2Consistent messaging

I try to put forth a consistent message about the importance of editing and proofreading. I like to introduce new writers, bloggers, poets, musicians, and artists in my special monthly features. I am a bit (a bit?) sarcastic at times, but try to present it in a humorous fashion. I share what I’ve learned and pay it forward.

Consistent message

Artist and illustrator, Janice Phelps Williams – “Good branding is nothing more than knowing who you are, who you want to be, what you are good at, what people will respond to, and how to live your personal and professional life in a consistent manner. It is being consistent in words, in graphics, in subject. It is being focused and knowing where the boundaries are. These are the only rules I focus on. I don’t really think of my brand, but I know when something ‘doesn’t feel like me.’”

Doesn’t feel like me   

There are certain bloggy features that don’t feel like me, i.e., book reviews, interviews, or constantly hawking myself or my services. So, I just don’t do any of those things.

***

What is “branding” to you? What is your consistent message?

“Become someone worth knowing. Then your book will become something worth buying.” – C. Hope Clark

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